Five Steps to a Winning Speech

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.

— Franklin D. Roosevelt, advice on speechmaking1

Whether it's leading a seminar or delivering a keynote address, speaking presents unique long-term marketing opportunities for consultants. A speech places you face to face with a roomful of prospective clients who have signaled their interest in you and your topic by showing up. You have the rare chance to meet and address people who want to learn about you and what you have to say. And you don't have to find them—they come to you. As a marketing opportunity, what could be better?

As a bonus, speaking expands your network of contacts, positions you as an expert, and generates leads for new business. And your speech material will add to your store of intellectual assets and can be marketed in other formats, including audio and video offerings, CDs, slide presentations, and articles. Your material might even form the basis of a book.

Speaking, after all, is the perfect marketing tactic for consultants, who communicate for a living. And as Nick Morgan, author of Working the Room, puts it, "There is something essential about the intellectual, emotional and physical connections a good speaker can make with an audience that ... no other medium can reproduce."2

Remarkably, most consultants fail to capitalize on the marketing potential of speeches because they narrowly define a speech as a single, isolated event. They go to an event, present their speech, and then disappear. To realize the full benefits of speaking, the guerrilla manages a speech, not as an event, but as a marketing process.

Before you begin, honestly assess your speaking skills. Most consultants haven't focused enough time or energy on the craft of public speaking and are uninspiring speakers. The best advice on speaking for consultants is that if you can't do it well, don't do it. Instead, use your marketing resources on other tactics. Recognize proficiency as an entry barrier to the speaking arena.

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